A Tunable Encryption Scheme and Analysis of Fast Selective Encryption for CAVLC and CABAC in H.264/AVC

Yongsheng Wang*, Maire O'Neill, Fatih Kurugollu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, two fast selective encryption methods for context-adaptive variable length coding and context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding in H.264/AVC were proposed by Shahid et al. In this paper, it was demonstrated that these two methods are not as efficient as only encrypting the sign bits of nonzero coefficients. Experimental results showed that without encrypting the sign bits of nonzero coefficients, these two methods can not provide a perceptual scrambling effect. If a much stronger scrambling effect is required, intra prediction modes, and the sign bits of motion vectors can be encrypted together with the sign bits of nonzero coefficients. For practical applications, the required encryption scheme should be customized according to a user's specified requirement on the perceptual scrambling effect and the computational cost. Thus, a tunable encryption scheme combining these three methods is proposed for H.264/AVC. To simplify its implementation and reduce the computational cost, a simple control mechanism is proposed to adjust the control factors. Experimental results show that this scheme can provide different scrambling levels by adjusting three control factors with no or very little impact on the compression performance. The proposed scheme can run in real-time and its computational cost is minimal. The security of the proposed scheme is also discussed. It is secure against the replacement attack when all three control factors are set to one.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6469203
Pages (from-to)1476-1490
JournalIEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2013


  • H.264/AVC
  • intra prediction mode
  • motion vectors
  • nonzero coefficients
  • selective encryption
  • sign bits
  • tunable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Media Technology

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